A $64K Question
A $64K Question
Saturday, May 11, 2013
A $64K Question 
Marlene Harris, NSCA-CSCS, NASM-CES

     During a recent session I was chatting with a client about her challenges with her nutrition, and as has happened so many times to so many of us, myself included, she confessed that she fell away from her game plan. She also noted that she knows full well what she needs to do, but she just needs to return to doing it. Then she made a most astute and thought-provoking observation (paraphrased): “It feels really good when I’m on track and doing what I know I need to be doing. I lose weight, I feel good about myself, I have more energy, I’m stronger, I’m proud of myself, I can do more…given all that, why I can’t stay with it?” Now, THAT is truly an interesting and puzzling question!
     That certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that statement. In fact, it falls under the heading of “If I had a quarter for every time…” to the extent that I’d be living in Bora-Bora by now! I’ve also briefly (perhaps too briefly) danced with that idea myself, for my own situation, then just passed it off as “the way we goofy humans is, I guess” and let myself off the hook. Well, it’s hook time folks! Let’s explore this insanely consistent and annoyingly self-destructive attribute that so many of us share: why can’t we get out of our own way, for our own best interests and benefit?
     Many researchers of that crazy little thing we call human nature suggest that we are all prone to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I’m not so sure. If that’s really the case, then why is it we swerve away from all the pleasure, all the good feelings and rewarding results of doing the right stuff and instead steer headlong into that which will makes us feel crappy mentally and physically, jams us up, destroys success and hard-won results, sucks the energy and life out of us, takes us further from our goals and intentions, and causes us to clout ourselves soundly upside our own battle-weary little heads over, and over, and over again. That doesn’t sound (or feel) like pleasure to me!
     I have my own ideas on the driving forces behind this vexing, yet common problem. But, since all of us are unique and have different perspectives, I’d like to gather ideas and input from all of you! So, for everyone interested in exploring this topic in greater depth, here’s what I’d like you to do;
    Offer your comments (by clicking the “Comments” link below) and write about 2 things:
1). What do you think contributes to OWE Syndrome (“Own Worst Enemy” Syndrome), and
2). What do you think might be helpful in undoing/over-riding it (besides a magic wand…).

Swords, Staffs, & Hammers, Oh My!
Swords, Staffs, & Hammers, Oh My!
Friday, May 03, 2013
Swords, Staffs, & Hammers, Oh My!
How do these fit into fitness?

   People today train in many different ways, using unusual, sometimes ancient tools. These items range from swords & staffs, to stones & kettlebells among many others. Why, you may ask? Are there benefits to this kind of training? Will this type of training make you bigger, stronger, faster than barbells, & dumbbells?
   The answers to these questions may be something to explore. However, in any case, the best workout is the one that you do. There are many people on this rock with many different interests and viewpoints. Some people will never be content in the back of a gym just hoisting iron. There are people who will tell you theirs is the only way, you just need more discipline dig in & just do it.
   When it comes to general fitness, you need to put your muscles under load. So, unless you’re training to be a power lifter or body builder, alternative forms of training have a definite place in fitness. 
   You may ask what advantages alternative forms of training have to offer?
·Mental stimulation: most of time these training modalities contain a level of complexity far exceeding standard weight training. Martial based training, sword & staff for instance, will also contain lessens in strategy and may even contain some history. Your brain gets a workout along with your body. It’s a more complete form of training, and you’re less likely to get bored with it.
·Multi-joint involvement: the muscles in your body are designed to work together. This can add to general athleticism as well as working more muscles in a shorter time.
·Balance & core development: with barbells & dumbbells, the weight is distributed equally on both sides. With swords & hammers, the weight is offset to one side for an unequal load, & with kettlebells the balance shifts back & forth. This makes your body have to use your core and other muscles to adjust for balance and to control the momentum.
·The interval advantage: alternative training implements typically involves interval style work. This type of intense work/brief rest more metabolically activating. As such, you’ll get both strength and cardio benefits with this approach.     
   This info may leave you wondering what the best training program is for you. If you just want to build strength & mass, & you don’t care about endurance, agility, or the learning/mental aspects, a conventional strength program will fit the bill. But if your goals include more than just strength and mass and you want something more, be sure to explore your options. As for myself & my fitness clients I use both!
   So basically anything that adds resistance when lifted swung or thrown can be used for fitness training. That being said, what’s stopping you? 

A Question of Focus
A Question of Focus
Saturday, April 27, 2013
A Question of Focus by Marlene Harris, NSCA-CSCS

     I stumbled onto a quote recently that caught my attention because it spoke to a challenge that I’ve grappled with, well, as far back as I can remember, related to focus. We’ve all heard it before: “Keep your eyes on the prize!”, or some variant of it. But, that’s never worked very well for me. My focus M.O. tends a highly variable, and moment-to-moment driven function, so I’d always wander off topic, then decide that ‘the prize” whatever it was, wasn’t all that important, attainable, valuable, meaningful, or whatever, and meander off in some other direction. Here’s the quote, it comes from Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes, a collection of fine wisdom from sources both ancient and modern:

   “I know some people say; “Keep your eyes on the prize.” But I disagree. When your eyes are stuck on the prize, you’re going to keep stumbling and crashing into things. If you really want to get ahead, you’ve got to keep your eyes focused on the path.”
    Russell Simons from “Do You!”
   Yup, that’s me alright, “stumbling and crashing into things”….granted, many very interesting things, but, in most cases, nothing that takes me any closer to my desired objective(s). Having read this, I took stock of my more valuable accomplishments, and sure enough, a pattern emerged. In those successful cases, my eyes were indeed fixed on the process as opposed to the prize. I employed a “What do I need to do next?” approach, as opposed to a “Just keep staring at the bright shiny thing!” approach.

As a result of this evidence and accompanying mini-epiphany, I’m going to spend more time attending to the process instead of the prize. How about you; path, or bright shiny thing? Where’s your eyes, or more importantly, where’s your feet? That prize is off in the distance and not readily accessible, your feet are right beneath you, and very much in your control. Critical consideration if you want to march your way up the road to that bright shiny thing! 

Deprivation: the Flip Side
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Deprivation: the Flip Side by Marlene Harris, NSCA-CSCS, NASM-CES

Are you lured by licorice, charmed by chips, bewitched by brownies, seduced by soda, coo-coo for cocao puffs, beaconed by bread, or generally of the mind that “you just gotta have” some nutritionally-bankrupt consumable?

When we can’t have something that we want, we report “feeling deprived”. As it relates to consumables, we’re denied some fluffy sense related to a momentary flavor, a bit of a buzz, a nano-second of nostalgia or normalcy, a fleeting feeling of relief, a micro-second’s sense of control. When you get your fix, it seems all’s right with your world. However, you may not be looking at the price tag of your happy place. Your attempt at avoiding a sense of deprivation comes with a cost, and that cost is deprivation! Say what?!? Let’s have a look at what you’re really being deprived of!
1). Your hard-earned money. In the case of non-nutritive foods (empty calorie fare), you’re spending your hard-won dough on essentially nothing, which means you’re wasting it. If the stuff has little or no nutrition and/or a heap of body-bashing ingredients, it has nothing of value to offer you. You gotta ask yourself, it reasonable for you to continue spending your money on something that has no value? Think that small amounts don’t matter? Do the math; let’s say you spend a mere $10 each week on various forms of non-nutritive foods. That’s $40/month, and $480/year, and over 10 years, $4,800! What fun and interesting things might you do with that extra money?

2). Your health. UFO’s (unfavorable food-like objects), will deprive of your health via excess weight and all the bad ju-ju that comes with it. Then there’s all the activities that you’ll be taken out of due to poor health. But wait, there’s more; more monetary loss! Even the best of health care plans have some level of co-pays and cost. Now you have a double whammy: first you pay for the stuff that doesn’t serve you, then you pay for it again for those doctor’s visits and meds. Questions: how many of your dreams can you accomplish in life if you’re not feeling well? How much happiness do you think you’ll be able muster without good health?

3). Your self-esteem. Whether consciously or otherwise, we KNOW when we’re doing something that is not in our best interests. Because of this awareness, our self-regard suffers because we know we’re not doing what we need to do to take proper care of ourselves, be how we want to be, look how we want to look, and generally be “doing it right”. When we undermine ourselves in this way, we tend think of ourselves as “bad” or damaged, incompetent, out-of-control, and unworthy. Does this sound like a success mindset? How many people whose self-esteem isn’t in good working order do you know who are really balanced, successful, healthy, and happy? Yeah, I thought so….

4). REALLY being in control. That momentary magic that crosses your mind as that coveted consumable crosses your mouth may give you some illusory sense of control or joy, but that’s exactly what it is; illusory. A mirage, a phantom, smoke and mirrors. Are you really in control now, or is “it” now in control of you? I doubt anyone enjoys feeling subservient (here we are back to that self-esteem thing again…). But, how can you feel large and in charge when you allow yourself to be mindlessly hijacked by a mere plop of pastry, clump of candy, or sip of soul-less liquid? Now be honest; are you truly a force to be reckoned with when you’re slavishly salivating for an inanimate “thing” that really doesn’t give a flying rat’s patootie about who you are, who you aspire to, your health & well being? Is that really the way you want to roll in life?

As far as food is concerned, if we want to live life at a higher and healthier level, it would be wise to train ourselves to be enchanted by endive, pleased by peas, bonkers for broccoli, silly for seafood, crazy for cauliflower, and rabid for raspberries. The key here is in the word “training”, and it’s not all that difficult. Just a small shift in perspective is all that’s needed, along with some practice. Over the years, I’ve successfully retrained my opinion of many foods I previously hated based solely on their nutritional value. Examples are broccoli, mushrooms, seafood, onions, even my most despised flavor of all (simply because it’s reported to be a very potent antioxidant), cilantro, among others.

Real power and control in life result from are in making wise choices that serve you; your health and well-being, your life, your favorable dreams and visions, not in simply downing some mere morsel that you’ve randomly assigned an artificially high value due to its fleeting flavor or mystical association to a desired place or state of mind. Do you really want to give that much of your power away to something that lasts, as the saying goes “a moment on your lips, but lands forever on your hips”?  The choice truly is yours, and the real choice is between being deprived of something worthless (that blob of whatever), or something priceless (your quality of life).

Serving up fun with your fitness since 2008!
Marlene & Jeff's Fitness News 4-U! Blog
Home Your Trainers Mindscape Artices Client  Experiences
Anazao Fitness Gear by AccuFitness